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22.4.12

Dip Your Ears, No. 115 (Manfred Honeck and Mahler)

available at Amazon G.Mahler, Symphony No.1, Honeck / Pittsburgh SO
Exton SACD
Because we don’t have enough Mahler to satisfy our every taste and desires, Manfred Honeck has also started a cycle “if it is possible, in the next five, six years” with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. If the audiophile Exton label doesn’t get its distribution act together, it may not matter, since we can’t get a hold of the recordings… but if we do (and I’ve snagged a copy of the First, released in April 2010; the Fourth has come out since, and the Third, recorded in June (2010) is available-ish by now, too), we might find it’s much more than another layer of Mahler-overkill.Über-idiomatic and rambunctious, joyously self-celebratory, laugh-out-loud daring, hyper-romantic but without the (differently-appealing) heavy hand of Bernstein, it is one of the most notable Firsts to have appeared in a very long time. Perhaps that can be partly blamed on the old zither teacher of Honeck.

When Honeck was a kid, he was—very reluctantly, because it was deemed cruelly uncool even then—made to learn the zither. He had an old teacher; not technically gifted but of a generation that had the Austrian folk music and rhythms in their blood and able to pass it on. Recording Mahler now, Honeck said that now he knows why he has reason to be thankful for those lessons: because he took to Mahler’s Ländler-rhythms like fish to water. “That’s something you can’t learn”, he suggests, “but rather absorb and hope to be able to pass on. In any case, that’s what I’ve tried with these recordings and so far I am very happy with the result.” The fact that he plays the unique rhythms and snaps up wherever they appear, contributes a good deal to the zest and color of this recording.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oooh, I want to buy those recordings. I saw Manfred conduct the PSO once a couple of year ago, Bruckner 4 and Beethoven PC 4, and both were awesome. The reviews for this look good, but the price is a bit too high for now.

I can't really justify adding to my already 70+ disc Mahler collection at $25 for a single disc. Hopefully the price comes down soon.

Brian R. said...

The price is intimidating, but the critics have been in consensus so far. Which confuses me, incidentally - I've already read glowing reviews of the Third and Fourth symphony recordings you say are forthcoming, and MDT lists the Fifth as a brand-new release. Just shows how baffling the Exton label's distribution is...

jfl said...

My bad - I should have updated my copy since writing it, about a year ago.

Anonymous said...

I heard a recording of the Mahler First by this conductor with the BBC orchestra some years ago. A CD of it was included with an issue of the BBC music magazine. I've never forgotten it. It introduced me to Mahler and I've never heard a First since then that was better. A haunting performance.

Anonymous said...

Exton's a Japanese label but it's now distributed in the US by Allegro, so the Honeck albums can be obtained directly via Allegro's website (at 20% off the rather ruinously-costly retail price). Honeck's Fifth has been out for a couple of months-- a tremendous recording with pretty astounding brass playing by the PSO's principals. Exton's DSD sonics are amazing, too, though interestingly, SACDs of this cycle are two-way stereo and not 5.1 multi-channel.

jfl said...

Thanks for the additional info!